Employer branding is: wanting to be part of things.
Eelco van de Stolpe’s encounter with a Jumbo employee.
In a time when finding good staff is difficult, employer branding is essential. Eelco van de Stolpe encounters an enthusiastic employee of a Jumbo Foodmarket, and once again learns why it’s important to get your story straight.
As my curiosity was triggered by a few enthusiastic stories, I bypassed my regular supermarket to visit the Jumbo Foodmarkt in Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht. At the fruit and veg department I saw a familiar face. It was Hans, an employee of my own Jumbo outlet, whom I hadn’t seen there for a while. Which was a shame, because he was always a great help. He really did go the extra mile.
So there he was, in Jumbo’s new experience store, where his attitude fits in perfectly. So I assumed Jumbo had transferred him. I was wrong. Beaming, Hans told me quite a different story. He was a fan of the new concept, had already visited the first Foodmarkt in Amsterdam and when they recently asked whether anyone was interested in working in Leidsche Rijn there was no stopping Hans: ‘I raised my hand without giving it a second thought!’
There’s no greater example of employer branding.
From employee branding to employer branding
Employee branding or employer branding: it seems to me like these two are confused quite a lot. Even though the difference is pretty simple. Employee branding is a thing of the past, while today is all about employer branding.
Who doesn’t remember their first ‘real’ job? Chances are that the story of your first boss didn’t really matter; it was the job you were interested in. My own first job was at small CSR company, where I worked as a research consultant. I was happy with my great job and in the course of time I emulated the story – the values – of the company; employee branding.
But things have changed. Employees no longer just look for a job they like, they also look at the values of their (future) employer; employer branding. Not just the more experienced people, seasoned throughout their careers, but also the young guns, the famous millenials. They no longer need actual experience to realize that there is more to a job than the work alone. They know that they and their employer should be a good match.
Attract and retain
This means: employer branding. In other words: the perception (image) of an organization as best place to work according to current and potential employees. Good employer branding attracts employees and ensures that they feel involved and motivated.
In the battle for talents, employer branding is more indispensable than ever. A sincere story with values that future employees can identify with. It’s all about the passion felt within your organization. My colleague Wolter Kloosterboer recently wrote: ‘Why passion is even more important that CX and EX’. Passion, a story, sincerity. These don’t just attract clients, they also attract the right employees. They believe in your story, it suits them, they want to be part of it. Just look at Hans.
Unprompted, Hans explained to me the crux of the matter. Why this store is so important and so now: it’s all about the experience and the fact that people want great service. Being different from your competitors who do home deliveries. ‘It’s so great to be part of that.’
In short: nothing but enthusiasm. To me, Hans is the perfect example of the loyal and inspired employee; the ambassador. He is intrinsically motivated to make the concept a reality. He can identify with the employer branding and is super keen to be part of it.
A sincere story
Do note, though, that that the key word that applies to employer branding is ‘sincerity’. Because if it turns out that the wonderful story employees bought into is not the real story, you have a problem. ‘Expectancy gap’ is what Tracy Maylett and Matthew Wride call it in their book ‘Employee Experience’. The bigger the gap between your employees’ expectations (about your values, your story) and real life, the poorer the employee experience. Especially now that employees find these values so important and are bombarded with great job offers, there’s no need for me to tell you that they will leave you if they employee experience is not a good one. And in terms of employer branding: they are likely to tell a negative story about your organization.
If your story is sincere, however, and if these values do match, an employee will take to your company like a duck takes to water. Maylett and Wride call this ‘expectancy alignment’. The employee’s values are the same as your own values, and he will automatically project them to your clients. Becoming irresistible to clients and new talents.
Good employees are difficult to find; you hear it all around you. I think the story is a little more nuanced: they are there, but they do have to like your story. Once they do, you will have ambassadors for life. And they will spontaneously raise their hands to all your plans.